Further Reading

Why won't people date me as a recovering alcoholic?

Dear Stanton,

I hope this is a question you can field, I didn't see one like it with the others.

I am a twenty-three year old college student, who has been recovering from alcoholism for over two years. I do not subscribe to any recovery programs and I feel comfortable (most of the time) around alcohol. Just about every one I know drinks alcohol.

I have recently found that I have problems meeting people my age (particularly for romantic relations) because I am (as my mother says) a non-active alcoholic. I have found that time and time again I will be having a great discussion with someone and my sobriety will come up, and it pretty much ends all relations. I find it very frustrating because I am not ashamed of being sober. Why are so many people uncomfortable with it? And furthermore, do you have any suggestions that I could use to make people feel more at ease with my sobriety?


Dear Lucy:

A fascinating question. Americans in general claim that they accept that alcoholism is a disease, and accept AA. But, it seems many don't want it to touch their lives. AA has done such a good job of selling alcoholism as an uncontrollable disease, maybe people believe that you can just slip off (like Lee Remick in Days of Wine and Roses) into oblivion.

I commend you for not dating primarily fellow recovering alcoholics. Why? Because then your life would be totally circumscribed by alcohol, its avoidance, the issue of alcoholism, etc. Think of children. And, given that you don't belong to any movement for recovery, it seems you don't want to devote your life to group meetings and fellow alcoholics.

I wonder why you say you are recovering from alcoholism, however. That, in fact, makes it sound like you subscribe to AA and disease theory. Another way to describe what you are going through is that you quit drinking because you don't like alcohol's effects. You don't want to lie to people, especially those you want to create intimacy with. But putting things in such a neutral form would make it easier for others to accept — it doesn't sound like you will be going to group meetings, objecting to others who drink, and so on — which in fact you don't do.

Are you looking at only drinkers to date? You could find people who, for other than reasons of being alcoholics, don't drink. But, if you date drinkers, make sure they are soundly moderate drinkers themselves — and that their lives don't revolve around alcohol. That would create a problem.

Best wishes,